Akron Beacon Journal, September 13, 1964
By JACK MAJOR
HOLLYWOOD – If someone were to poll performers to determine which of their flock is most deserving of whopping success, chances are the winner would be Mrs. Fillmore Crank.
Mrs. Crank – okay, Beverly Garland – has been a professional actress more than 20 years and is a battle-scarred veteran of more grade Z Westerns and science fiction films than she cares to remember.
Beverly Garland also is a good luck charm for television producers and since 1954 has been tapped as the guest star in 12 pilot films that were turned into series. No other performer has helped kickoff so many shows.
She also is capable of delivering a fine performance and proves it about 15 times each season in TV guest shots. But Beverly Garland is not a star. Not yet.
She hopes to correct the situation this season when she co-stars on the new “Bing Crosby Show” for ABC.
Garland has had roles on two previous series, but neither was a success. One was “Stump the Stars,” the other was “Decoy,” in which she became television’s first policewoman.
“I had fun with ‘Stump the Stars,’ ” she said, “but I’d rather forget ‘Decoy.’ We filmed it in New York for 39 weeks and most of our work was done outdoors. I think the only season New York had that year was winter. I thought I would freeze to death before the show went off the air.”
Spoken like a California native, which she is.
Except for Crosby’s name, which may not hold the magic it once did, his program appears little different from other situation comedies. He’ll be an engineer who sings in his spare time. Garland, as his wife, will be a woman with theatrical ambitions, but no talent. There will be two daughters in the family (played by Diane Sherry and Carol Faylen, daughter of Frank Faylen, best-remembered as the TV father of Dobie Gillis).
Viewers may not have the same reaction, but for Beverly this new program is a godsend. It offers the chance of permanent escape from such films as “The Alligator People” and “Curuco, Beast of the Amazon.” It may also be the answer to Beverly’s prayer, which goes, in part, “And lead me not into another Western.”
She has spent a good part of her career in Westerns because she needed the work and the price was right. She might have had a better time working in a coal mine.
“In my first Western I had to fire a rifle on horseback. I reached down for the rifle, but the horse reared up at the same time. I broke my nose in two places.
“In my next Western I was required to run down a flight of stairs, dash into the street, jump on a horse and ride away. The first time I jumped too high, tumbled over the horse and landed on my face.
“When we did the scene again I fell down the stairs and broke my ankle. Another time I was thrown off a horse, landed on a cactus and gashed my leg.
“Even when Walt Disney tried to help I got hurt. He signed me to do ‘Elfego Baca’ and told me to get acquainted with my horse before we started filming. I got along fine with the horse, but broke my ankle while dismounting.
“Even when I don’t go near horses I get into trouble in Westerns. Two years ago on ‘The Dakotas’ I was supposed to get killed in the final scene. The scene was filmed in the rain and the street was quite muddy when I got ‘shot.’ I was careful to land where I couldn’t get too dirty.
“But the fellow playing my brother comes over, cradles me in this arms for a moment ... you know, he looks down and says, ‘Gee, she was really a good kid’ or something like that ... and then drops me back in the mud.
“The water started getting into my nose and mouth. I tried to wait out the scene, but I couldn’t. I had to jump up. I remember screaming for dear life. Then I was told to get cleaned up and come back and do the same thing over again.
When Garland wasn’t going Western or playing in those science fiction epics, she was cast as an alcoholic, a neurotic or a dope addict
“There was nothing lovable about me,” she said. “I think that’s why I’ve starred in so many pilot films. Producers usually want the first show to be a shocker to it will gain attention. I guess I’ve got good shock value.”
She went into movies with the idea of being glamor girl, but changed course after a pride-piercing incident in 1954. It happened when she wore her most form-fitting dress in an effort to get a part as a sex symbol for a television show. She didn’t get the role, but went immediately to an interview with the producers of Richard Boone’s show, “Medic.”
“They took one look at me in my ‘sexy’ dress and said, ‘Yes, you do look emaciated ... as though you have leukemia. You’ll be great for the part.”